It’s Nice to be Back!

Well it’s been quite sometime since I last sat here and put my fingers to the keyboard and shared, but I’ve had this niggling at me of late to start writing again. The sky is overcast with showers on and off, just the weather for blogging! And I’m feeling like I’m getting back to my old self again. The past 6 months or so have had various challenges, things I’ve had to navigate through with much prayer for wisdom and strength. Things I’ve had to accept, there are physical challenges that make us realise what was once possible in a day may not be possible as a new season unfolds before us. And with all that comes a time of personal stretching but also of growth if we allow it. I look at all that is going on in the world and I think sharing such as this is important, to be able to sit and read something that I hope might encourage or bring some enjoyment to a small portion of your day. To share a good recipe or an idea that goes from my home to yours would or is a truly wonderful thing.

The photo above was taken recently when we brought our main herd in to treat them. And I was very happy to get my milking cow Maudrey back! We joined her with the bull so as to get her in calf again. That way I will have milk right up until a few months before she has her next calf. Later in the year I will wean the calf she has now, give her a break so her body can rest and prepare, then start milking again 3 or 4 weeks after calving. A good system when you only have one house cow for a pretty continuous supply of fresh milk. I love this way of milking, where I can milk whenever I need to, I’m not obligated to milk every morning and afternoon. I separate the calf from her in the late afternoon, milk in the morning, then put the calf back with her, and he wonders where all his milk has gone!!! I often think the afternoons where he gets penned separately he must be thinking, ohhhh here we go again, hungry in the morning!!

I have milked 2 mornings this week and I don’t think I will ever tire of that feeling of coming back home with a bucket of fresh, creamy, beautiful milk. And that time spent on my milking chair as the day just begins with an animal like Maudrey, letting me take her milk and watching the steam coming off it as it goes into my bucket. It is something just so special and so rewarding. The stillness of the day and the feeling of providing for your family in this way. Our youngest son Luke who is 12 is learning how to milk and that feels like a very good thing and a great way for someone his age to start the day too.

Back in the paddock, trying to get whatever he can, Mrs Brown has struck again!

I’m still knitting my dishcloths! My husband keeps telling me maybe one day I could join all those squares together and we might have a blanket : ) funny!! Well…..he might have a point….; ) It’s a nice thing to do, relaxing and practical, you can pick it up anytime you get the chance and knit a few rows, it does something good for the soul. Your mind is active, your body is resting, and you are creating something with your hands, an original piece just for your home or for someone you love.

I’m enjoying simple stitch patterns such as this one above where I’ve cast on 40 stitches then I simply knit 4 and purl 4 until the end and keep going until I have a length I’m happy with. A couple of other options are cast on 40 then knit 2 purl 2 repeat until you have desired size or cast on 36, (or multiples of 8 stitches plus 4 more) Row 1- knit 4, purl 4, knit 4, repeat until end of row then for Row 2- purl. Repeat rows 1 and 2 to form your pattern. We like a decent size cloth you can vary the number of stitches to your own liking.

I feel like it’s been a productive time lately, homemade tomato sauce is bottled and put away. I’ve shared my recipe before it’s very simple and delicious, you can use either tin tomatoes or fresh/frozen ones. It’s from Sally Wise’s book A Year in a Bottle, 500g sugar, 2kg tomatoes, 2 onions peeled and chopped, 1 cooking apple, cored and chopped, 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 3 dessertspoons salt, 3 teaspoons mustard powder, 2 teaspoons curry powder and 3 cups of white vinegar. Place it all in a large pot and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer away for an hour or so or until it’s thickened to a sauce-like consistency. Then I get my stick mixer and blend it before it’s cooled enough to push through a sieve. Place back in your pot and return it to the boil ready to bottle. I always remember a lady saying to me once, if you ever saw the way they make supermarket tomato sauce and what they put in it you would never buy it again.

The bulk of our daily vegetable needs are coming from the garden. All the staples such as beans, tomatoes, onions, capsicum, carrots, leafy greens and cucumbers which are a bit on and off. This Summer I have struggled with cucumbers and zucchinis, however I have a couple of very healthy looking cucumber vines that are producing flowers, so things are looking more promising there and a healthy looking zucchini so we shall see. Normally I would have them coming out of my ears. Perhaps the wet weather has played a part and the lack of sunshine, I’m not sure. But Autumn is looking more promising for these and so many other plants are getting excited. Tomatoes are popping up everywhere, we are heading into a very productive time in this part of the world.

This zucchini as well as tomatoes, carrots, radish and a mix mash of things is growing in a seeder my husband gave me that is broken, no longer any good for tractor work but wonderful for growing in!! I’m sure not to many gardens have a striking red seeder as a feature : )

Cucumbers!! And more growing in these pods for some raised gardening in the shade house.

I’m! loving growing in these pods, the height and amount you can grow in them is wonderful. We have had a continuous supply of sweet potato and pumpkins, so I thought it might be best to chop up some of the excess pumpkin and freeze it, that way if the supply grinds to a halt over Winter, I will have plenty for soups, casseroles and baking.

More beetroot seed went in recently as well as more carrot seed and shortly I will be planting my onion seeds at my gardening table to plant out once they have sprouted and started to grow. What an exciting thing it was for me to grow my first lot of onions and from seed, and how satisfying is it to grow and harvest your own onions!! So good and so rewarding!

I have been trying very hard to focus more and more on saving my own seed. So far I have been doing well I think, and it’s made me realise how we needlessly spend so much money on seeds when we have it all at our fingertips, if we take the time to focus on this aspect of our food growing. By saving your own seed you not only save money but end up with stronger plants as the seed adapts to your soil and conditions.

Carrot seeds
A carrot flowering that was accidentally pulled out, what a beauty and what a shame!

All of this extra time and effort makes such a difference to our spending and our health, eating fresh from the garden. About the only vegetables I have been buying are potatoes and extra onions. My focus this year will be to try and grow more of these to keep us stocked for longer. I absolutely love not relying on other people and knowing that what I’m eating has never, ever had a chemical near it or on it. Another staple that is made in our home each week is fresh bread. With a plentiful supply of bread flour you know you can always have homemade bread on hand and we love it. I always freeze my bread flour for a week before storing it, this way any insect eggs etc. that may have gotten into your flour will be killed and it will keep for longer. This is my recipe that I have followed for years, it makes a large loaf or you can turn it into bread rolls, or if you’d like a smaller loaf you could do either 2 small loaves or 1 small loaf and bread rolls with the option of freezing whichever you’d like.

In my bowl I place in this order: 420 mls water, 3tbsp oil, 2tsps salt, 2tbsp sugar, 5 cups(750g) flour, 1tsp bread improver (optional), 2tbsp milk powder, 2tsps yeast. Bring the dough together then it’s time to get your hands in.

Once you’ve brought your dough together take it out and knead for 10-15 mins using the palm of your hand to push it away, fold, bring toward you then repeat with pushing away motion. Or if you have a helper like me, who likes to use his strength to bash the dough (my son) : ) that is a very handy thing and gives us a good giggle, we call him the bonkers baker! It makes the bread wonderful and just right, once he has finished I give it some love with my conventional kneading technique. You will start to feel it become more resistant, this is good, then put it in a lightly buttered or oiled dish with a tea towel over and allow it to rest and rise.

Then when it has risen that will depend on your temperature, the warmer the air the quicker the rise. Push the air out and if your making one loaf, line your tin and make your dough into a log shape simply to make it fit into your tin, then push it down to fill your tin and cover again and allow to rise until it’s reached the top or just above the top of your tin. If you are making bread rolls, shape your rolls by taking the desired amount of dough and bring the sides underneath to form a ball and place on a lined tray, cover and allow to rise. For my loaf and oven I like to bake it for 40mins at 190 degree’s Celsius, bread rolls will only take 15-20 mins. If they sound hollow when tapped they are cooked.

The simple things in life are wonderful!! Fresh, warm bread with homegrown Y-bone and fresh vegetables. With food prices the way they are Y-bone is a great option for a tasty meal. Y-bone cooked in your pressure cooker or if you’d prefer slow cooker with basic ingredients are so full of flavour and so nourishing. For this I added to my meat and vegetables some of my homemade tomato sauce, beef stock, a little good curry powder, salt and pepper and it was beautiful!

You just never know who you’ll find trying to keep cool at your back door!! xx

4 thoughts on “It’s Nice to be Back!

  1. Love this! We would love to come and visit you’re guy’s piece of paradise one day. 🫶

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